The Nigerian Government had yesterday kicked against the travel ban against travellers from Nigeria to the United Kingdom on the claim that Nigerians were already infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The FG demanded with immediate effect that the UK authorities should review its decision which they described as ‘knee-jerk” apartheid, discriminatory and unscientific. The Nigerian Government insisted that including Nigeria into the list of the countries ban was not based on scientific considering the Nigerian approach to fighting the pandemic which was acknowledged worldwide.
It accuses the UK and other developed nations of muscling smaller countries through mopping up “promising vaccines” to the peril of developing nations.
Meanwhile, the UK government has promised that it will look into the matter by December 20th with the aim of reviewing it. Only yesterday, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control reported about 12 positive cases of Omicron as against the UK 336 cases.
The Nigerian Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made this known to newsmen during a press conference in Abuja. The Minister when asked whether the FG was planning to respond to the UK with similar action, Minister replied that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on covid-19 would decide that and would be communicated in due course.
Mr Mohammed said the Uk decision was propelled by fear rather than scientific reason. The Minister explained, “Let me say straight away that it’s up to the PSC to respond to this action by the British Government and others, and I have no doubt that the committee will respond appropriately.
“However, as the spokesman for the Federal Government, I can say, without mincing words, that the decision by the British Government to put Nigeria on the red list, just because of less than two dozen cases of Omicron which, by the way, did not originate in Nigeria, is unjust, unfair, punitive, indefensible and discriminatory. The decision is also not driven by science.
He noted that he believed the British Government will retrace their step and remove Nigeria from the said red list.
He revealed that the country has handled the Coronavirus pandemic with utmost responsibility which earned the country global applause for its effort; he, therefore, said he wondered how the same country can be on the red list.
The Minister queried, “How do you slam this kind of discriminatory action on a country of 200 million people? Whereas British citizens and residents are allowed to come in from Nigeria, non-residents from the same country are banned.
“The two groups are coming from the same country, but are subject to different conditions.
“Why won’t Britain allow people in both categories to come in, and be subjected to the same conditions of testing and quarantine?
“This is why this decision to ban travellers from Nigeria, who are neither citizens nor residents, is grossly discriminatory and punitive.”
Mr Mohammed revealed that Nigeria had been proactive in its approach to the Omicron variant of Coronavirus to prevent its spread. He added the FG in an effort to checkmate the spread of the Omicron variant had on 5th December revised the protocol on the COVID-19 to bring it to the barest minimum.
The Minister argued that if any country felt unsatisfied with the measures, it could “simply” subject inbound travellers “to their own PCR tests and proven conditions, like quarantine, instead of banning them outrightly?”